and Medicine for Seniors
Seniors surviving heart failure have
20 percent risk of death for a year
Yale study looked at 3 million
Medicare patients who survived hospitalization for heart failure and
By Karen N. Peart
6, 2015 Senior citizens age 65 and older who survive
hospitalization for heart failure have a 20 percent chance of going back
into the hospital or death in the month after being discharged. New
research, however, has found these risks remain high for up to a year,
although they can be addressed with targeted care.
The study looked at 3 million
Medicare senior patients aged 65 or older who survived hospitalization
for heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, and pneumonia from 2008
The Yale School of Medicine
research has been published in the February 6 issue of the British
The Yale research team defined the
absolute risks of rehospitalization and death on each day during the
full year after discharge.
They found that risk of
rehospitalization and death declined slowly following hospital discharge
and remained elevated for many months. They also found that specific
risks vary by discharge diagnosis and outcomes over time.
For example, risk remains elevated
for a longer period of time following hospitalization for heart failure
compared with hospitalization for acute myocardial infarction and
pneumonia. For all three conditions, risk of rehospitalization remains
elevated for a longer period of time than risk of death.
If we can track absolute risks and
their changes over time, this information will be critical in helping
patients and hospitals set realistic expectations and goals for
recovery, and plan for appropriate care after discharge, said lead
Dr. Kumar Dharmarajan, assistant professor of cardiology at Yale
School of Medicine.
As our health system increasingly
focuses on improving long-term health and personalizing care, this
information can help hospitals focus their interventions during the
highest risk periods for patients.
Patients should remain vigilant
for deterioration in health for an extended time after hospitalization,
said Dharmarajan. This might mean checking in more often with a primary
care physician or specialist.
In future studies, Dharmarajan and
his team will seek to understand other factors that impact long-term
risks, and how to integrate this information into more efficient and
effective care plans.
Other authors on the study include
Angela F. Hsieh, Vivek T. Kulkarni, Zhenqiu Lin, Joseph S. Ross, Leora
I. Horwitz, Nancy Kim, Lisa G. Suter, Haiqun Lin, Sharon-Lise
T. Normand, and Harlan M. Krumholz.
The study was funded in part by the
National Institute on Aging and American Federation for Aging Research
through the Paul B. Beeson Career Development Award Program
British Medical Journal